The monument at Rock Hall, St. Thomas. (FP)

The long-delayed Rock Hall Freedom Park in St. Thomas will be officially opened on Sunday afternoon to mark the end of the 2020 Season of Emancipation, however, the planned removal of the statue of Lord Nelson on that day has been delayed.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for Culture, John King, has confirmed that given limited resources at a time when its capacity was unexpectedly split because of unforeseen events, the ministry took a decision to concentrate on completing the Freedom Village.

“Once we have completed all the critical matters in relation to Rock Hall, we will be in a position again to turn our attention to removing Nelson from Heroes Square,” Minister King explained.

“While so many families are struggling to keep their heads above water because of the challenges brought on by COVID-19, we felt it was critically important to create new opportunities for ordinary Barbadians by getting those shops that had been languishing for so long back in shape and ready for commercial activity.”

Minister King noted too that the symbolism associated with Rock Hall, given its status as the first community where freed slaves were able to own the land in 1841, was important today, as Barbadians fight to overcome the economic impact of COVID-19.

The Rock Hall Freedom Village project involved the refurbishing of the 20-foot bronze monument; the upgrading of a number of chattel-type shops built by a previous Barbados Labour Party Government, but which were never opened; the creation of a park, which formed part of the original plan, but which was never executed; and the building of an outdoor amphitheater to facilitate the performing arts. Work on this amphitheater is still under way.

Minister King pointed out that while Government had announced in late July its intention to remove the statue of Lord Nelson from its current location in Bridgetown on Sunday morning and officially open Rock Hall Freedom Village at 4:00 in the afternoon, the diversion of resources as a result of unplanned circumstances, led to the decision to concentrate on the St. Thomas project for this coming weekend.

An announcement will be made shortly on a new schedule for the removal of the statue of Lord Nelson.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for Culture, John King.

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